Boston-based singer songwriter Naomi Westwater grew up on the Cape and will be returning with her band to perform with Crooked Coast at Grumpy’s Pub on Friday, October 26, starting at 10 o’clock. The Halloween-themed concert will have prizes for best costumes. As well as being a musician, Westwater has also worked as a producer for live podcasts and comedy shows. She is releasing her full-length album “The Huntress” next month.
What’s the first music you remember hearing around the house growing up?
My parents grew up in the 1960s and ‘70s, so we listened to a lot of classic rock, folk singer-songwriters, and jazz. But I have strong memories of my mom listening to Reggae Sundays every weekend. She listened so often that the DJ knew her name when she would call in for requests or to compliment his set. My dad also played opera really, really loudly when he was paying the bills.
When did you begin writing your own music?
When I was about 4 years old, my parents got me a keyboard with presets of old popular songs, and I would play the songs, and make up my own lyrics. I think my first lyrics were: “Extra, extra read all about it, that’s what they say all in my town.” Then when I was 7 I wrote my first poem and that led my to writing my own songs—lyrics and melody—when I was 8. I was an only child and I didn’t like sports, so writing music and poetry in the back yard was a big part of what I would do for fun.
I know you spent some time overseas working on music. How, if at all, did that influence you as an artist?
Yes, I spent the last year in Valencia, Spain, getting my master’s in music from Berklee College of Music. It’s the first time in my life I spent a whole year just working on music and it changed me. I’m a better musician and a better performer now than I was before I went to Berklee, and I created an album of original work, “Huntress: from dark to light,” that’s coming out in November.
But a huge change from that experience is my new interest in adding electronic elements to my music. A few of the songs on the album are more experimental, and I use an electronic beat instead of drums. I’m now learning to use the software Ableton Live and teaching myself how to write music and perform with an electronic element. I really want to combine my two favorite genres, Americana and Indie, and make music that has organic and synthetic sounds mixed together. Learning Ableton also gives me the freedom to create music without needing a whole band; it’s allowing my writing process to be more creative and imaginative.
Did you have any particularly memorable moments working as a producer on podcasts or live events?
The two years I worked for Pretty Good Friends as an associate producer were so magical. I have a lot of memories. But there’s a sound that I hear in my head; it’s the sound of a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people cheering right as the lights go down and a show is about to start. When I produced “tarTalk Live!” with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugene Mirman, I’d put weeks into all the details of the show to make sure it would run smoothly, and then hearing the sound of the crowd every time, knowing I was a part of creating this special night for the audience, always made me feel so proud and honored. The entertainment industry is fun, but it’s a lot of work, and lot of the work goes unnoticed by most people. But if you get it right, you’re creating experiences and memories for people that will last their lifetime, and that’s really special.
What was the process of writing and recording “The Huntress?”
So much goes into making an album, but asking for help was a huge part of it. I wrote the songs, arranged most of them, and co-produced them, but I had a lot of help. Over 30 people worked on this album: Ido Goldberg, who produced four of the songs; my label at the time, Disrupción Records; the many musicians who played on the record; [and] the visual artists who helped me with photo and video shoots. You need community to make a record—even if it’s a solo project. Being a musician is inherently collaborative.
Another big part of this record was the decision to make it multi-genre. “Huntress: from dark to light” starts with Indie Pop, electronic-influenced music. The music is heavier, and, then slowly, each song gets a little lighter, until it ends with my single, “Damn Strong Woman,” which is a classic Americana song. This album is a concept, in a time when everyone just streams singles and pre-made playlists, I really wanted to return to the concept album and make a body of work that tells a story. You can listen to the songs individually and enjoy them, but when you take the time to listen to the whole album, it will take you on a journey through emotions, power, and relationships.
Who is one artist or band you would love to go on tour with and why?
Probably Grace Potter. She is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen, and the whole tour would just be a chance for me to watch her and learn. She knows how to captivate an audience and give a really good rock ‘n roll show. Solange is another artist I’d love to just follow around and watch; she is combining music with set design and dance in a way that is really innovative. She’s taking performing to the next level; I’d love to study how she creates a unique atmosphere for her audience.
This Friday, Naomi Westwater will be performing with Crooked Coast at Grumpy’s Pub, 29 Locust Street, Falmouth, at 10 PM. This is an age 21+ event. Tickets are $10 and available at the door or in advance at John’s Liquors and Grumpy’s Pub. The Halloween-themed concert will feature prizes for best costumes. For more information about Naomi Westwater, go to www.naomiwestwater.com